VILLAGES OF TINOS
The village of Tripotamos is built between three rivers on the foothills of Mount Exombourgo. One of the oldest villages on the island, it is full of arches, steps, arcades, and cobbled alleys. It is here that the Festival of the Birth (Kavos) is celebrated at Christmas, combining early-Christian and Mediaeval elements with customs imported from the monks’ republic on Mount Athos. The hamlet of Sperados is a continuation of Tripotamos.
Ktikados is a traditional village with an amazing view of the sea arches, whitewashed cobbled streets, and large houses with marble lintels. There are two churches in the village: the Church of the Holy Cross, at the entrance to the village, with its remarkable bell-tower; and the Church of Panagia Megalomata with its unique marble entrance. The old fountain with its stone washhouse adds the finishing touches to this beautiful village. Ktikados is the birthplace of Capetan Svetsos.
Chatzirados is a small, picturesque village with a view of the sea, paved streets, brilliantly white houses, and gardens teeming with flowers. The village is further graced by the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Kampos is situated in the centre of the island, in a verdant valley it shares with the villages of Komi and Kalloni. Kampos has two churches: the Holy Trinity, with its exceptional peddled courtyard; and Saint Catherine’s, with its beautiful carved wooden rood screen erected in 1770, during the period of Russian rule, in honor of Catherine I of Russia. The traditional washhouse is still in working order.
The village of Tarampados was built around 1700, and boasts a number of archways and the island’s most impressive collection of dovecotes. The dovecotes, which spread throughout the island during the period of Venetian rule, were an important source of income for the islanders, who sold both the birds’ meat and their droppings. The dovecotes are superlative examples of local popular architecture, built by Tinian craftsmen and weathered by winds, rain, and salt off the sea. No other island in the Aegean can boast so many or such a variety of dovecotes, and what’s more, their owners have kept most of them in excellent condition.
Of all the villages on Tinos, Smardakito has best preserved its traditional character. A picturesque village with paved roads and well-kept courtyards, its two-store houses have decorative lintels. The large paved square in front of the Church of Saint Anthony, with its lofty bell-tower, boasts a traditional washhouse with water flowing from an ancient spring. Agios Romanos Bay and the Church of the Vrissi – where local May Day celebrations are held – is in the same area.
Xinara is an old village built in the shadow of Mount Exombourgo. Seat of the Orthodox Bishop of Tinos in Byzantine times, and of the Catholic bishop in later years, Xinara is now the home of the Municipality of Exombourgo. There are two churches in the village: the Panagia Rodariou (1860-1870), at one time the Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Tinos; and the Church of Peter and Paul (1836). Both are excellent examples of traditional Tinian architecture. The “Archbishop’s Palace”, a spacious nineteenth-century building that once housed the seminary, is now home to the Catholic parish archives (the oldest on Tinos) and a museum displaying ecclesiastical relics.
Loutra is a village with a long history. The Jesuits built their monastery here, and the Ursuline Order their convent. The Ursuline Order was active on the island between 1860 and 1940: the convent school was one of the best schools for girls in Greece. In antiquity, there was a famous spa on the outskirts of the village.
The little village of Skalados is built on the mountainside. It is the birthplace of the nineteenth-century Catholic priest and poet, Nikolaos Perpiniatis.
The granite boulders scattered over the Volax plateau are a unique sight, as is the village of Volax itself: its few dazzlingly white houses built flush to huge monoliths, reminders of a volcanic eruption some twenty thousand years ago. Volax is also home to the last remaining basket-weaving workshop on the island. more
Koumaros is a small traditional village built on the steep, rocky slopes of Mount Fourka in the Tinian interior.
Tzados is a traditional village on the road to Messi. Messi is built on the spot where the five roads leading to the four corners of the island meet.
Kechros is a small, picturesque village with the Church of the Panagia Eleous (Our Lady of Mercy) rising above it. It is a beautiful church with a wonderful dome and a remarkable carved wooden rood screen with four large columns and a huge scalloped upper section. The village is known for its stratourades, the saddle-makers who once flourished here.
Steni, built in the foothills of Mount Tsiknia, is the largest village on Tinos. Although the village was once famed for its shoe production, there is nothing in the village to hint at this save a carpet-making school. The churches of Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony are remarkable buildings, and there are a number of beautiful chapels scattered around the surrounding countryside: Faneromeni, Agios Dimitris, and the Kioura ton Angelon (Our Lady of the Angels). Dirt roads lead to wonderful beaches at Santa Margarita, Faneromeni, and the pebble beaches at Agios Dimitris.
Myrsini (Mousoulou) is an old village. The triple-aisled Churche of the Annunciation of the Virgin is a magnificent piece of architecture.
From Myrsini, visitors can head up the very peak of Tsiknia – considered the home of Aeolus – or head down to Livada in the valley below.
There are clusters of remarkable rock formation at Livada beach that are constantly changing shape as they are eroded by powerful waves rolling in from the sea. The river that until recently crossed the whole of Tinos, flowing through the Exombourgo region, also joins the sea here, forming a wetland habitat that is a magnet for many species of rare birds.
Potamia is an isolated village, surrounded by greenery and nestling on the slopes of Tsiknia among gullies bearing the running water that once set the local water mills in motion. The church of the Panagia Karmilon – the Karmelitana – rises high above the centre of the village. A little further down from the village are the beaches of Santa Margarita and Lychnaftia.
Falatados is an old village dating back to 1400, built amphitheatrically and facing Kechrovouni. The two highs spots of the village are the marble church of Saint John, and beautiful, Cycladic Megalohari (Great Joy) Square. There are a number of working winepresses and raki-stills in the village, and the village plays host to a number of festivals during the raki-making season in September. The November “pig slaughter” is another local custom. There is also a folklore museum in the village. Picturesque Plasidi is a short walk from the village, as are the boulders at Kapsiani. Kakia Skala plays host to a large festival every September.
The little village of Krokos – named after the crocus – has retained much of its traditional character. Krokos was home to Markakis Zalonis, the doctor and philosopher who wrote a history of Tinos in 1809.
Monastiria is a small, deserted village whose inhabitants have abandoned it to the ravages of time. The church of Saint Joseph still soars above the derelict houses all around it.
Perastra is built on both banks of the river of the same name, and is set among acres of foliage. The village can boast old stone bridges, handsome water fountains, the ruins of an olive-press, and water mills.
Sklavochorio is the birthplace of N. Gyzi, one of the most significant modern Greek artists. He made his reputation in Munich, and left the Greek nation a rich cultural heritage. The churche of the Holy Trinity is worthy of note, as is the washhouse, which dates from 1828.
Perched high on the side of the mountain is the village of Agapi. The village is an architectural gem, with its characteristic paved roads, narrow alleyways, superd archways, traditional houses with their unique lintels, and the traditional well with its washing area. There are also a numbers of dovecotes in the Griza area, with its running water and verdant gullies. The church of Saint Agapitos is also worthy of note.
Komi (Peraka) is a large village that owes its name to the count that took the area for his own. The two-meter high-inscribed marble column in the churchyard of Saint John’s dates from the pre-Christian era. Livadi, the exceptionally fertile valley in which Komi lies, stretches down as far as the windy beautiful sandy beach at Kolymbithra, (“baptistery”), and the small lagoon which is a wetland magnet for swans, ducks and other migratory birds. There is a tiny islet, known as Drakonisi, in the very centre of Kolymbithra Bay. The island looks like a dragon at rest, hence its name: “dragon island”. The view of the sea and the verdant valley from the chapel of Fylakto is superb.
Kalloni (Kelia) is set among dense vegetation on the edge of the valley. It owes its name – “kelia” means “cells” – to the hermits’ cells in the old mountain monastery of Agios Ypakoi (Saint Obedience). The Church of Agios Zacharias is the largest on Tinos, and is surrounded by a marvelous pebbled churchyard. There is a carpet-making school in the village.
Aetofolia (which means “eagle’s nest) is built high up on the hill known as “The Mountain of the North Wind”. The village was for many years a centre of Cycladic ceramic production. The thick vegetation in the area known as “Kannava” makes it one of the most beautiful spots on the whole island. A little outside the village is the mediaeval settlement known as “Kore’s Tower”. According to local legend, Persephone, the daughter of the goddess Demeter, lived here, but it is also said that the tower belonged to an exiled princess. Local beauty spots such as “Kammeni Spilia” (“burnt cave”), Ellinikaria, and Polemou o Kampos (“The Plain of War”) are of great natural and historical interest.
Kato Kleisma is set in a fertile village on the edge of the Komi valley. In effect, this is the beginning of the Komi-Kalloni valley, with its abundant water, reed thickets, and endless greenery. Most of the remains of an ancient temple from the Cycladic Period found in the area were used to build the Church of the Virgin. The Church of Saint Anastasios is built on the site of an early-Christian church. There are also two ruined olive presses in the village.
Karkados is a small village. There is an ancient copper mine a little to the east to which the village probably owes its name (“chalkos” = copper; “chalkias” = copper-smith). The bell tower of the old church of the Saviour leans so much to one side that it has earned it the nick-name: “little Pisa”.
The greenest village on the whole island is Kardiani. Built on the slopes of Mount Pateles, Kardiani luxuriates in the shade of plane and olive trees. The stream that runs through the village reaches the sea at Giannaki beach. Picturesque flights of steps; whitewashed, stone-paved streets; arches; alleyways; and gardens bursting with flowers all serve to make Kardiani an exceptionally beautiful village. There are three large churches: the church of the Holy Trinity at one end of the village, the Assumption of the Virgin in the centre, and Church of the Kioura (Our Lady) at the other end. Cool water gushes out of a spring beneath the foundations of the latter. Excavations in the area have unearthed six graves and a number of artifacts. A road from the village leads down to the beautiful beaches at Agios Petros, Ormos Giannaki, and Kalyvia.
Ysternia is a picturesque village – so called because it is situated on the ysterna (end) of the island – clinging to the slopes of Mount Meroviglia. Marble-paved lanes, arches, countryards, two-store houses with marble lintels. The village, with its superb views of Syros, really is a balcony overlooking the Aegean. The village has brought a number of wonderful sculptors into the world, among them G. And I. Vitalis, who studied in the Munich School of Art and received many international awards for their work; L. Lamera, who studied in Greece and Paris; L. Sochou, who made a great career for himself in Europe; and A. Sochou, who became a distinguished sculptor in wood. Mylon, to the north of the village, is the most remarkable spot in the area. The ruined windmills – visible proof of Mylon’s rise and fall – are now listed buildings. To the south is the Ysternia (Ammos) Bay, with its amazing sandy beach. An old marble-paved road connects the village of Ysternia with its beach.
Our stroll around the Municipality of Exombourgo has been a magical journey of discovery. Every single step has revealed beautiful traditional villages, crystal clear seas, sites of immense natural beauty, forest paths, the stone lattice-work of the dovecotes, threshing floors, dry stone walls, caves, round granite boulders, marble fountains, cobbled lanes, arches, flight after flight of steps, all finely wrought by wind and human hand.
Often awesome, sometimes calm, at times mysterious, the hugely varied enviroment on Tinos make it an island unique throughout the Aegean.